Longueuil, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal)
I consider this conference a big success. Every session was good, and a number were outstanding. Two of them were so useful that I wrote them up in detail: converting businesses to worker co-ops y addressing power dynamics. Additionally, we made many new contacts and renewed some old friendships. (If you don’t see the captions on the photos, click here.)
Common themes across presentations:
- Research on co-ops needs to continue, and increase. Research needs to be applied by cooperators and policy-makers.
- Ongoing education of cooperators (and the general public) is very important. The co-op model is applicable across academic fields, not just business studies.
- The co-op principles are not just an ethical standard, but a comparative advantage, as well.
- Revenue is not the only indicator of success. There’s also embodying the co-op principles — however, this is difficult to measure. Multiple groups are experimenting with ways to do so.
- Co-ops that address a need will succeed. Those that do not will struggle.
- Clear, thoughtful, effective communication is a vital co-op skill.
- Individual co-ops need to scale up, but if we cooperate between co-ops, scale is already there.
- Growth is an important goal, to the extent it means meeting more needs, not for its own sake.
We talked with a representative of the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops (the equivalent of MadWorC in western Massachusetts) about their internal loan fund, and the Co-Executive Director of the Vermont Worker Ownership Center about the co-op investment club in his area. These talks are also written up in a separate document.
Extensive notes on the presentations are available on request.